With half of the NBA season gone, it’s a good time to consider the production and efforts of players from around the league. Who are the frontrunners for awards at this time of the season?
Most Valuable Player: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Who’s more deserving of this year’s MVP award than the reigning MVP? Curry is leading the league in scoring by averaging 30.0 points per game, which is also his career-best for a season. The Warriors are also off to the best start in NBA history, and Curry has played a huge part in that.
Defensive Player of the Year: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
The Klaw is known as one of the league’s best defenders, and for good reason. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year ranked first in the NBA in December with 1.5 Defensive Win Shares and now leads the NBA for the season. With Leonard on the floor in December, the Spurs’ defense allowed 90.6 points per 100 possessions, 2.4 points per 100 possessions less than when Leonard was not on the floor.
Coach of the Year: Steve Kerr/ Luke Walton, Golden State Warriors
Kerr did not receive Coach of the Year honors last year, but there’s no question that he will be named Coach of the Year this year. In only his second season as head coach of the Warriors, Kerr has an impressive 118-20 coaching record and the Warriors are looking to beat the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls’ season-best 72-10 record. Although Walton probably won’t receive any credit for the games he coached, he has certainly played a part in Golden State’s success this season, leading the Warriors to a record-breaking 24-0 start in Kerr’s absence.
Sixth Man of the Year: Jeremy Lin, Charlotte Hornets
Lin is far from his Linsanity days from New York, but he has excelled in his role as sixth man on the Hornets. Bouncing back from his lackluster stint with the Lakers, Lin has been a perfect fit for Charlotte and is playing considerably well off the bench. Although he is averaging nearly the same production as he was last season in Los Angeles, Lin is playing more consistently and confidently, which has helped Charlotte become playoff contenders once again, as the Hornets are currently holding the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Most Improved Player, C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers
After the offseason losses of LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, and Wesley Matthews, Portland was expected to fall towards the bottom of the Western Conference. They have far exceeded expectations, now holding the sixth seed in the West, and McCollum’s improvement as a player has played a huge part in this. McCollum is averaging 21.1 points per game, a huge spurt from 6.8 points per game last season. Alongside Damian Lillard, if McCollum keeps up this level of play for the rest of the season, the Blazers just might be making some noise in the playoffs.
Rookie of the Year: Kristaps Porzingis
Ever since being booed at the 2015 NBA Draft, Porzingis has made a name for himself in the NBA with his rebounding and posterizing abilities. Porzingis has been a bright spot in the Knicks’ rocky season. Averaging 14.1 points per game and 7.1 rebounds per game, the 7’3” Latvian power forward has shown immense potential as the future of the Knicks.